A Martin’s bikini line and miscellaneous shop stuff…

So this week we had lots of upgrades and repairs but nothing too crazy, but we haven’t posted in awhile, so let’s look. That was a run on sentence.  Sorry about that.

This awesome sounding D-18 came in to have it’s original black pickguard replaced with a vintage style tortoise shell guard.  Acoustic guitar pickguards usually come off  easily with a hair drier and some patient peeling.  Just be sure to take your time. Not too hot, not too fast.  We’ve had guitars come in with splinters attached to the bottom of the old pickguard! For those who prefer the look of an acoustic sans guard, you can put your guitar in front of a window for a few days to let the UV color the  bikini line left by the old scratch plate. This one is more dramatic, but we were recently able to get a previously unexposed portion of a Breedlove to match the rest of the finish within two days. But we’re recovering this one anyway. If the replacement you’re looking for doesn’t cover the whole area, don’t worry too much. It’ll eventually match the rest of the finish’s aged hue.

After some final trimming, we matched the guard to the radius of the rosette. This guitar also got some shiny new Waverly tuners, some of the best you can buy.  These vintage style tuners are stainless steel with a bronze crown gear and have a 16:1 ratio. Super smooth and look great.

Next up is a really nice Gibson J-30 with a stress crack in the bridge. The design of this bridge didn’t give the saddle enough support. So after 20 or so years, it finally gave way…

So we removed the offending bridge and ordered a high quality replacement bridge. No problem. I saw this guy on YouTube use a 9 iron to remove a bridge in one hit. I used a pitching wedge, because we wanted sufficient lift. My swing coach keeps telling me we should use heat and a spatula. Next time.

Here we are after cleaning and prepping the area. You sould always replace your divots. It’s just good etiquette.

Here’s the replacment bridge. If you look closely, you’ll see the graft line where we spliced two bridges together. WHAT? Well, here’s the thing. The original bridge on this model is 2 1/4″ center to center from the E bridge pin holes.  The replacment bridges are the standard Gibson 2″ spacing. After some further digging, the Google told me that most Gibson bridges need to be fabricated. So in an effort to keep as original as possible and make sure the bridge plate and holes line up perfectly, we cut the broken bridge just below the pins and glued in the saddle half of the replacement bridge. The new style has LOTS of wood between the bridge and the edge, insuring that this baby won’t crack any time soon. Or ever. After lots of shaping, sanding and light finishing, this looks pretty original. The last couple pin holes haven’t been re-beveled yet after sanding.

Here’s the finished product with a new hand-shaped compensated saddle. The intonation came out nearly perfect and was fine-tuned with some saddle shaping. Now you can play an open E at the 12th fret and it all rings true. This guitar also got a new bone nut and fret level. It’s now ready for action and hopefully sounds better than ever.  Thanks to our buddy Fred for letting us work on this one.

Here’s a brief note about semi-hollow and hollow body guitars. Usually to replace a jack or repair a loose wire, the whole assembly has to come out.  If you’re going to go through that trouble, make sure you don’t have to do it again for a while. So we like to heat shrink the contacts on the jacks and make sure you put a lock washer to keep it from spinning again. Loose jacks tightened from the outside (without securing from the inside) account for 105% of repair guys having to fish electronics out of f-holes.

Here’s yet another pickup swap that needs some dressing up. The squared shoulders of the stock Duncan Blackouts leave lots of room on this 8-string. Yes, 8 (eight).  This was discussed in our last post, but we have a really nice shot of rings being glued together. It features our Craftsman clamp. I love this clamp.


O.k. Here’s a killer Ibanez Musician that wants to have new pickups. Only problem here is that the original pickups, much like the ones above, are very wide and don’t utilize pickup rings. The height adjustment is within the body of the pickup, smiliar to a P-90 but closer to the edges. We’ll have to figure something out with this one. We don’t want to modify the guitar in any permanent way or add new screw holes.

Here’s the size difference.

Here’s the mounting plate for the Ibanez pickups. We want to retain them if possible. We drilled and tapped new holes that lined up with the replacments’ height adjustment screws (Seymour Duncan ’59’s with 4-conductor wiring to keep the original Parallel/Split/Series switches).

We ended up being able to use pickup adjustment screws to mount the pickup ring. They were just long enough to wedge between the pickup mounting plate and the cavity wall. This way we didn’t have any additional screw holes but anchored the rings quite well in the right spot. Awesome. But…

The mounting plate made the neck pickup sit too high. We didn’t want to risk damaging the pickup legs by re-bending them or shortening them in any way. And we couldn’t rout the cavity deeper without compromising the integrity of the neck joint.  So we cut this dowel into quarters and glued them into the corners to hold a pickup ring. Sometimes you just can’t tell how it’s going to work until you try it. We were able to mount the bridge pickup onto the existing mounting plate following what we just outlined.

Here’s a great project a customer brought in. It’s a violin that was in his family for generations and needed an overhaul. It has had lots of repairs over the years. Some different types of wood were spliced in to repair cracks, lots of open seams and a bad neck angle. We agreed to give it a dark burst similar to another violin we had in the shop at the time to cover up the old repairs.

The neck had this really big shim glued in at one point, but the angle was still way off making this violin unplayable.  We removed the shim and cut the neck heel to fit properly.

Here’s a shot of the back in progress. You’ll notice two screws at the endblock that were put in a long time ago to reinforce a crack repair.  We left the brass screws there. The neck had the same treatment. Although we removed them in the neck when we fixed the neck angle, we left the screw heads in place. Our job here was to keep the history, but make it playable.

Here it is after getting a new bridge, strings, 1 new tuning peg and all of the structural repairs and finish completed. Sounds really nice. Check out that cool fingerboard complete with inlay.  Hope this lasts in the family for a few more generations.

Here’s a shot of our new “guitar room”.  I call it that because it’s from a collection of old 1940’s Brazilian Rosewood D-28’s and I think a few 41’s. We took them all apart and used the back and sides for the floor boards. I know it’s wasteful, but man that floor sounds good.

Thanks for watching.


One Response to “A Martin’s bikini line and miscellaneous shop stuff…”

  1. Greg Meyer Says:

    Love your site and especially your “hey, let’s try this” attitude instead of the usual “well, actually that’s not how that particular repair is always done”. I will be bookmarking and checking out your repairs for inspiration.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: